USGBC releases LEED Top 10 list

USGBC releases LEED Top 10 list

The list is based on the number of LEED-certified square feet per person.


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released its annual list of Top 10 States for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. Illinois topped the list, which ranks states based on the number of LEED-certified square feet per person. The top 10 states for LEED are home to 128 million Americans and together include more than 468 million gross square feet of LEED-certified space. USGBC says buildings that are LEED-certified create healthier spaces for people, use less energy and water, reduce carbon emissions and save money for families, businesses and taxpayers.

“Over the past 25 years, the U.S. Green Building Council, its member companies and the green building community have come together to make our planet stronger, greener and more sustainable through LEED,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, the president and CEO of USGBC, in a press release. “These top 10 states are examples of how we can create lasting, measurable change and improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities. A better future requires a universal living standard that leaves no one behind—and that future would simply not be possible without the extraordinary work being done in these states.”

As the number one state for LEED certification in 2018, Illinois certified 172 green building projects, representing 5.31 square feet of LEED-certified space per resident. This is the first time Illinois has taken the top spot since 2015. Washington and Texas returned to the top 10 this year, securing the highest rankings in each state’s history. In addition, Colorado made notable strides in its LEED activity, moving from number 10 in 2017 to number six on this year’s list. The top 10 list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified throughout 2018. The full rankings are as follows:

2018 Top 10 States for LEED
Rank State Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF) GSF Per Capita Number of Projects Certified
1 IL* 68,133,942 5.31 172
2 MA* 34,718,212 5.30 122
3 WA 28,555,753 4.25 137
4 NY* 72,881,287 3.76 214
5 TX 88,404,993 3.52 277
6 CO* 17,042,295 3.39 114
7 HI* 4,504,287 3.31 20
8 VA* 25,348,631 3.17 136
9 CA* 112,388,968 3.02 521
10 MD* 16,869,680 2.92 113
** DC 37,147,538 61.74 145

*Included in 2017 Top 10 States for LEED list

**Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

USGBC says it calculates the list using per capita figures to allow for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings. 

    While the Top 10 recognizes progress at the building level, LEED is also now used to measure sustainability performance at the city and community levels. This year, nine of the top 10 states are also home to LEED-certified cities and communities, including Chicago, Seattle, Austin, San Diego County and more. There are currently more than 137 registered and certified LEED cities and communities around the world, representing more than 50 million people.

    Despite Washington, D.C. not appearing in the official Top 10 list because of its status as a federal territory, USGBC says it has consistently led the nation and in 2018, it certified 61.74 square feet of space per resident across 145 green building projects. The nation’s capital has a strong legacy of sustainability leadership and in 2017 was the first city in the world to be LEED-certified.

    Research shows green building will continue growing through 2021, USGBC says. Client demand remains the top reason to build green in the U.S. and occupant health and well-being emerged as the top social factor.

    Recently, USGBC introduced LEED v4.1, the latest update to the rating system, and opened registration for existing buildings (LEED v4.1 O+M), new construction (LEED v4.1 BD+C) and interiors (LEED v4.1 ID+C). LEED v4.1 emphasizes human health and integrates performance metrics using Arc to encourage ongoing tracking. There are currently more than 96,275 registered and certified LEED projects in 167 countries and regions.

    To read more about the top 10 list in LEED, including notable projects in each state, visit